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Israeli forces kill Palestinian militant in West Bank clash

JENIN, West Bank, April 9 (Reuters) – Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian militant on Saturday in clashes that erupted in the occupied West Bank during a raid on the hometown of a gunman who carried out a deadly shooting in Tel Aviv, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions have spiked as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches, with both sides warning of an escalation. The deadly incidents have since multiplied.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 13 people were injured in Saturday’s firefight in the city of Jenin. Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed the slain man as a member of the militant group.

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The Israeli army said its soldiers were conducting a counterterrorism operation in the area and opened fire on Palestinian attackers who fired at them.

Residents said troops surrounded the home of a man who on Thursday night opened fire in a Tel Aviv bar and killed three Israelis. He was shot hours later in an exchange of fire with Israeli security forces.

It was unclear whether soldiers made any arrests at his home on Saturday.

Thursday’s shooting brought to 14 the number of people killed in a series of Arab and Palestinian attacks in Israel over the past month, the biggest increase in such violence since 2016, which Israeli leaders have described as “a new wave of terrorism”.

Jenin is considered a stronghold of Palestinian militants and Israel has staged a number of raids in the city over the past two weeks.

More than 20 Palestinians, many of them militants, have been killed by Israeli forces since January.

Palestinians have also reported near-daily incidents of Jewish settler violence across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014 as Jewish settlements expanded into areas the Palestinians want to be part of an independent state.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday condemned the Tel Aviv attack.

But he also warned of the dangers of Israeli provocations at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, an ongoing point of tension, days after a far-right Israeli lawmaker visited the compound, sacred to Muslims and the Jews.

The Friday Ramadan prayers, however, ended peacefully.

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Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, editing by Angus MacSwan

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